Latest Louisiana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. CDT


With reservations, New Orleans prepares to open a bit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dining in restaurants can resume in New Orleans beginning Saturday — with reservations. Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced a loosening of coronavirus-related restrictions Tuesday. Restaurants can open at 25% capacity, as long as diners make reservations. Walk-in diners will have to provide a name for an on-the-spot reservation. Restaurants will have to keep the information gathered for 21 days to aid with contact tracing if needed. The city reopening plan resembles in the plan going into effect soon in the rest of Louisiana. But there are differences: for instance, while casinos can open statewide Monday, they'll remain closed in New Orleans.


Police: Man caught on camera choking ex-girlfriend's dog

SLIDELL, La. (AP) — Police in Louisiana say a man was recorded on a doorbell camera choking his estranged girlfriend’s dog. Slidell police say Shane Michael Mitchell stole Rubyjean and choked her after arguing with the woman on Sunday. They sent undercover investigators to track him down. The 30-year-old Mitchell was jailed on animal cruelty charges and the dog was returned to its owner. Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal says he was sick to his stomach watching that video, and declared Rubyjean to be “as sweet and well-mannered as could be.” He says he's glad this story had a happy ending for the dog and her owner.


GOP lawmakers look to limit car accident claims in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s Republican lawmakers are advancing measures that would limit damage claims against businesses in car wreck lawsuits. They are pushing ahead with the pre-coronavirus priority as Democrats argue the debate is inappropriate amid a pandemic. The proposals would change the rules for accessing the courts and suing over injuries. A House committee voted 11-5 Tuesday to send one bill to the full House for debate. A Senate committee backed a similar measure in a 4-3 vote. Supporters say Louisiana’s legal climate encourages people to sue, driving up car insurance costs. Opponents say the changes aren’t proven to lower rates and could keep people from receiving adequate compensation for injuries.


Louisiana officer accused of raping woman after traffic stop

PORT BARRE, La. (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana have charged a police officer with rape after a woman accused him of engaging in sexual activity with her in exchange for a lighter punishment following a traffic stop. Port Barre's police chief says 21-year-old officer Darwin Fontenot admitted to having sex with the woman in an off-duty encounter after he pulled her over for speeding. Authorities said the Chalmette woman reported the incident to the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office in April. The report indicated the woman had other violations and Fontenot offered her leniency in exchange for sex. Fontenot was also charged with malfeasance. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment.


Edwin Litolff named interim Louisiana-Monroe president

MONROE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana Monroe has a new person in place to guide the school temporarily until a permanent person is named president. The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System announced Tuesday that Edwin Litolff will be interim president while the university searches for a replacement for President Nick Bruno whose last day in office is June 30. The search committee will meet May 18 to choose semifinalists for the position. Interviews will take place the week of Aug. 17 and the next president will take office Oct. 1.


Huey Long time capsule in Louisiana Capitol to open in 2031

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A time capsule buried in the walls of the Louisiana Capitol building by former Gov. Huey Long will be opened in 2031. Senate President Page Cortez said Tuesday that Long wanted the time capsule opened 100 years after it was concealed. He says lawmakers will honor that request. Until then, the Senate wants to display the unopened time capsule on the first floor of the Capitol. Cortez says the Senate intends to work with the state archives office on a protective display that won't damage the capsule. The copper box buried behind the cornerstone in the northwest corner of the Capitol was found during rehabilitation work.


Arrest made in drive-by shooting that killed man and boy, 3

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans police say a young man was arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting that killed another man and a 3-year-old boy. Police say 19-year-old Ronjae Steadman was taken into custody Tuesday on charges including being a principal to second-degree murder. Police say that a 23-year-old man was dead when they arrived around 7:20 p.m. Monday and that the boy died at a hospital. A 48-year-old woman was injured. Police say a motive and details are part of a continuing investigation. Online court docket notes do not show an attorney who could speak for Steadman.


Virus unleashes wave of fraud in US amid fear and scarcity

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials say the COVID-19 outbreak has unleashed a wave of fraud. An arm of the Department of Homeland Security called Homeland Security Investigations has opened more than 300 cases in recent weeks that include counterfeit products and medicines as well as fake tests for the virus. Authorities have also found cases of fraudsters attempting to sell nonexistent masks and other protective equipment to hospitals. One case involves a former investment manager in Georgia who was already facing federal charges for an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded 1,000 investors around the country. Authorities say they expect to open more cases in the coming months.